Why I Write – Aimee Baker
Why do I write?
Because it can take less than ten seconds for a woman walking alone along a quiet stretch of sidewalk to be physically forced from her path and shoved into the dark maw of a car trunk.
Because there was once a young woman who was pushed from the backseat of a speeding car into the dust and dirt along the I-10, the hulking body of Phoenix in the distance behind her. The woman had a blue heart tattoo etched into her chest and, if you only look at the right side of her morgue photos, you could believe she is only closing her eyes for a moment.
Because on early mornings waiting for the bus to take me to school my brother would stand close so I could hear him when he whispered that he wanted to kill me. His breath puffed into the cold air and across my face when he said he wanted to rip my intestines from my body. Wanted to hold my heart in his hands.
Because Gary Ridgway killed 49 women. Because Ted Bundy killed 35 women. Because Robert Hansen killed 15 women.
Because in rural Idaho a boy tells a classmate he wants to “kill all the girls.”
Because my Correction Officer student laughs when he tells me that at Clinton Correctional John Jamelske’s name is Bunker Bob. “But I don’t know why,” he adds. I want to say that it’s because over the course of ten years Jamelske kidnapped and raped women, imprisoning them in a concrete bunker buried in his yard. Instead, I remain silent, the words caught in my chest.
Because inside Clinton Correctional with Jamelske is Julio González who killed 87 people at the Happy Land club after his ex-girlfriend said she didn’t want to be with him anymore.
Because once, long ago, a young woman rode her bicycle along the edge of the desert, her legs pumping in time to the music playing through her headphones.
Because a polaroid is found in a Florida parking lot. In it, a woman and young boy are bound in the back of a van with their hands behind them, black tape covering their mouths. By her thigh the book My Sweet Audrina, a favorite of the woman who rode her bike along the edge of the desert the year before. The year she disappeared.
Because a teacher once stopped me in the hallways of my high school. Gripping my forearm tight with her hand she leaned forward and asked me to stop writing about violence. “Have you thought about writing something nice?” she implored.
I write because now you know it takes less than ten seconds to disappear.